Monday, October 17, 2011

Meet the team: Stephanie

Hi, I'm Stephanie! And Project TLC is my labor of love.

I would never have thought twice about orphans or Ukraine if not for my son, Ralph. You see, Ralph is four years old and has Down Syndrome. His health was extremely fragile for his first two years. I spent countless hours on the internet, searching for information about Down Syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, atrial-septal defects, open heart surgery vs. device repair, and on and on and on, trying to find ways to help him.

During one of those nerdy search sessions, I stumbled across a Down Syndrome adoption blog. I was shocked to the core that children with Down Syndrome were nearly always rejected at birth in many countries around the world.

Can you believe it? I slept with one eye on oxygen saturation monitor for two years, for a child who would have likely died alone, in a crib, in an orphanage laying room if he had been born in some other part of the world. How could this be? Why didn't I know about this sooner? How could I live out the rest of my life without doing something about it?

So, after Ralph's health stabilized, and after another baby graced our family, we did do something. In the summer of 2010, we adopted Zhen and Theo, two little boys from an orphanage in Ukraine. The experience changed me profoundly.

After forty days in Ukraine and even more orphanage visits, I grew to love the other little children there as well. They were all desperate for a scrap of human contact, a kind word, a little song. Many of them had twisted bodies, were frighteningly thin, but were strangely tough. Survivors already, at the tender ages of three and four.

The day I walked out of the orphanage with Zhen and Theo to start our new lives in the USA, my heart shattered. I cried myself to sleep on the train that night. What would become of those beautiful children? The next stop for them, at the age of four, would be the mental institution. Who would love them? Who would sing to them? Who would show them kindness?

Since that day, I have thought about and prayed for those children continually. The love of Christ is compelling me to be a voice for them, to do what I can to improve their lives on earth. Project TLC is the fruit of those prayers. Thank you.

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